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It has become increasingly clear that the government cannot be the only system of support, and companies are starting to look at how their policies affect those with caregiver responsibilities.iStockPhoto / Getty Images

This is the weekly Careers newsletter.

Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

Canadians are struggling with a shortage of caregivers and the rising costs of child care, which has many workers taking on a variety of caregiver duties themselves.

On top of that, the way Canadians work – and care for children, pets or the elderly – has changed a lot during the past few years. There has been an 18-per-cent increase in pet adoption in Canada since the pandemic began, and more than a quarter of Canadians 30 or older say they’re caregivers for aging parents or in-laws, according to an Angus Reid poll.

It has become increasingly clear that the government cannot be the only system of support, and companies are starting to look at how their policies affect those with caregiver responsibilities.

To get a better idea of what this could look like, Canadian diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm, Feminuity, just released a report outlining how employers can create more inclusive experiences for caregivers.

Here are a few highlights, and examples of companies putting the ideas into action:

Boost child-care benefits

One of the reasons more employees are tasked with child-care duties is because there are either not enough caregivers available, or if they are, they are costly. While the government is working on a $10-a-day child-care deal, wait lists can take years.

So, some companies such as Bank of Nova Scotia are now letting employees expense daycare. Allowing employees to offset these costs and free up time could also benefit companies if they are hoping that more employees will return to the office in-person.

Ditch gender stereotypes

While women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with one in four considering leaving the work force or downshifting their careers during that time, men take on caregiving responsibilities as well. Companies need to keep this in mind when thinking through their policies, processes and programs.

Companies can support and encourage more men to take paternity leave by giving them the same amount of leave as birthing parents, as Salesforce does. Along with allowing men to bond with their children, this could give women the opportunity to stay in the work force and even help remove the stigma of having a résumé gap. Check out the 2022 Canada’s Top Family-Friendly Employers list and look under the Health & Family-Friendly Benefits tab to see what employers are offering for parental leave.

Communicate about job security and advancement

Many people face the fear and reality that if they take parental leave, or choose to work from home because they are a caregiver, they will incur penalties in the workplace when it comes to promotional and advancement opportunities.

The report suggests creating a clear communication plan for those who are on leave, as well as a robust set of guidelines for hiring and promoting employees to help reduce caregiver stigma. Tech company Remote increases understanding and transparency by publicly sharing their process and requirements for promotions and performance evaluations on their website.

What I’m reading around the web

  • Think it’s too late for a career pivot? Find inspiration in Anne-Marie Newland, the 66-year-old woman who recently became a security guard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Newland, who started working at the age 11, has had a variety of jobs, from cleaning factory floors to choreographing dance classes.
  • Check out the Inc. 5000 list. Each year, the business magazine pulls together a list of the most successful companies in America, and shares their success stories and what their prosperity means for the future of business.
  • A recent viral TikTok video introduced many of us to the concept of “quiet quitting” – which actually doesn’t mean quitting at all. As employees look to form stronger boundaries around work, here’s why employers need to adapt.
  • Did you know that the average Canadian household spends $1,766 annually on groceries that end up in the garbage? Check out the final piece in a four-part series that explores how people access fresh, affordable food in urban settings.

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